한국말로 글쓰기

작년 가을 부터 한국말로 된 책을 쓰기 시작했다. “디지털 시프트”라는 제목으로 디지털 기술이 가져오는 7가지 근본적인 변화를 중심으로 세상의 변화를 살펴보는 책이다. 이미 연구 논문으로 이렇게 저렇게 썼던 내용들과 강의시간에 사용했던 예들을 정리해서 일반인들과 경영자들을 대상으로 쓰고 있다. 문제는 한국말로 글을 쓰는 것이 이렇게 힘든 지 몰랐다는 것이다. 과거에 대학교, 대학원 시절에는 그런데 나름대로 글을 잘 쓴다고 자신이 있었다. 모시고 있는 교수님을 대신해서 신문 컬럼을 쓰기도 하고, 교회에서 내보내는 주보에 매주 컬럼을 맡아서 일년 넘도록 쓰기도 했다. 어느정도 글쟁이로 재미있고 맛나는 글을 쓰는 데는 일가견이 있다고 생각을 했었다.

그리고 미국에서 산 것이 근 20년. 대부분의 시간을 영어로 된 글을 읽고, 영어로 된 글을 쓰면서 살면서 그 시간을 보냈다. 참으로 힘들게 영어로 글쓰고, 읽고, 생각하는 훈련을 받았다. 그래도 집에서 평상어로 한국말을 쓰기 때문에 한글로 글을 쓰는 것은 그렇게 힘들꺼라는 생각을 하지 않았다. What a big mistake! 한마디로 참 힘들다. 그냥 한국말 영어를 섞어서 쓰라고 하면 차라리 쉬울 것 같은 생각도 든다. 물론 전문 용어들을 한글로 옮기는 것이 힘들 것이라는 예상은 했었다. 그런데, 문제는 단순히 전문용어의 문제가 아니다. 내가 한글로 써 놓은 글을 읽어 보면, 도대체 맛이 없다. 뭔가 독자의 마음을 사로잡는 그런 맛이 전혀 없다. 더구나 요즘 유행하는 표현, 특히 인터넷의 블로거들이나 전문가들이 쓴 글들이 가지고 있는 뭔가 특이한 그런 맛이 전혀 나질 않는다. 그런 글을 쓰기 위해서, 그런 글이 가지고 있는 생각의 흐름 속에 빠져 있어야 하는데, 그렇지를 못하다. 왜냐하면 그렇게 하기 위해서는 계속해서 그렇게 쓰인 글들을 읽으면서 그런 모양으로 생각을 해야하는데, 그것이 그렇게 쉽지가 않다. 더구나, 영어로 된 글들 또한 계속 작업을 해야하기 때문에, 마치 두가지 다른 운영체계를 한 컴퓨터에서 동시에 왔다갔다 하면서 사용하는 느낌이다.

그래서 오늘 부터 한글로 블로깅과 트위팅을 병행해보려고 한다. 짧게 나마 계속 한국말로 글쓰기 연습을 해야겠다느 생각이다. 그동안 사실 블로그를 거의 손을 놓고 있었다. 필라델피아 시와 하는 Urban Apps Studio 프로젝트와 Evolution of Digital Artifacts 프로젝트 때문에 블로그를 쓸 겨를이 없었다. 또다른 이유는 트위터를 사용하면서 점점 블로그를 사용하는 것이 귀챦아 졌다. 트위터 때문에 블로그가 귀챦아진 것은 단지 글쓰기뿐 만이 아니다. 읽기도 마찬가지이다. 과거에는 RSS feed를 통해서 몇가지 블로그를 정해놓고 읽었는데, 요즘은 트위터를 통해서 들어오는 글만 읽기 때문이다. 하지만 가능하면 오늘부터 짧게라도 지속적으로 블로그를 해보려고 한다.

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Social media and revolution

I finally had a chance to read Malcolm Gladwell’s article on social media. He argues that social media cannot revolutionize the world. He disputes a popular beliefs that social media is a new tool for social activism. He points out two specific reasons why social media cannot be a tool for social revolution. First, he correctly points out that a key characteristics of social media is “not asking too much.” As we often hear, instead of asking million dollar donation from five wealthy donors, a politician now can ask for a dollar from five million people. Popularity in YouTube, the “Like” button on Facebook, and “RT” of Twitter are all examples of not-asking-too-much. Gladwell notes that “[A]tivism that challenges the status quo — that attacks deeply rooted problems — is not for the faint of heart.” In other words, a real revolution requires sacrifice and dedication. He further argues that such dedication can only come from a strong-tie, formed in real friendship. Second, according to Gladwell, a revolution requires disciplines and strategy, which he argues social media cannot provide. He argues that discipline and strategy can only come from a hierarchy.

Despite some obvious flaws in his arguments (for example, the notion that discipline and strategy cannot come from social media, thus, a revolution requires a hierarchy, is simply not true. One should not treat all networks as equal. Some networks, particularly with a strong central node, can have characteristics that resemble a hierarchy. It is just that the commands are not coming from the top; they are coming from the center of the network), I am intrigued by his bigger point: social media will not revolutionize the status quo. He ends his essay by quoting a story from a book, “Here Comes Everybody”. In that story, a Wall Streeter used social media on the Internet to track down, shame, and eventually catch a teenager from Queens who stole his smart phone.

Shirky ends the story of the lost Sidekick by asking, portentously, “What happens next?”—no doubt imagining future waves of digital protesters. But he has already answered the question. What happens next is more of the same. A networked, weak-tie world is good at things like helping Wall Streeters get phones back from teen-age girls. Viva la revolución.

The story reminds me of a panel that I was on with a CIO of a large multinational company a couple years ago. A person from the audience asked, “When are we going to see the use of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, in Corporate America?” Without a missing a beat, the CIO responded, “Oh, yeah. It is coming. We are working on it. We are testing all forms of new technologies.” However, I was much more skeptical. I responded to that reply by noting that the use of social media in an organization should be likened to the political revolutions in the 18th century that ended monarchy and led to the emergence of democracy. Just like democracy was a different kind of idea on how to govern people, social media represents a different kind idea on how to share information and knowledge. Therefore, one cannot and should not expect to see the proliferation of the real use of social media without expecting the transfer of power. That means, those who are in power will feel threatened; they will try to block the free flow of information and persecute those who promote the free flow of information through the use of social media. Just like people shed blood and lost their lives then, people will loose their jobs and careers will be ruined now. Only if those who challenge the powerful succeed, only then will we see the real revolution in organizations with social media. Until then, social media will be only used to re-affirm the current power structure. Those who are already in power will continue to exercise their power, using newly acquired propaganda machine — social media — only to re-affirm the current social structures.

p.s. I wrote this one last November only never to publish it as I was hoping to revise it further. Since then, we had Wikileaks, Tunisia and Egypt. Here are couple of my random reactions to those events.

Thought 1: What happened with Wikileaks shows that those in power will persecute those who try to use the power of social media to challenge the status quo.

Thought 2: What Egyptian government did with the Internet shows that no government should be allowed to control the Internet.

Thought 3: What is happening in Egypt and Tunisia show that social media can challenge the established social structures, even those as powerful as Egyptian government, only when people are willing to risk their lives. Young Egyptians did not just twitted. They marched on the street.

Our country that I desire

I came across a writing of Kim Gu who was a political leader during the Japanese occupation. It was written in 1947, shortly after the end of the occupation. Korea was then already divided between North and South, occupied by the USSR and US with no independent government yet. Although it was written over 60 years ago, the power of his vision and idea still moves me. I am proud that we had such a visionary leader. Yet, I am deeply sad that we have not lived up to his vision. I copied the portion of his essay — Our Country that I Desire — in Korean and then translate it in English. Unfortunately, he was assassinated and never saw his vision to be realized. I hope to see the new generation of Koreans build Korea the most beautiful country in the world.

나는 우리나라가 세계에서 가장 아름다운 나라가 되기를 원한다. 가장 부강한 나라가 되기를 원하는 것은 아니다. 내가 남의 침략에 가슴이 아팠으니, 내 나라가 남을 침략하는 것을 원치 아니한다. 우리의 부력(富力)은 우리의 생활을 풍족히 할 만하고, 우리의 강력(强力)은 남의 침략을 막을 만하면 족하다. 오직 한없이 가지고 싶은 것은 높은 문화의 힘이다. 문화의 힘은 우리 자신을 행복되게 하고, 나아가서 남에게 행복을 주겠기 때문이다. 지금 인류에게 부족한 것은 무력도 아니오, 경제력도 아니다. 인류가 현재에 불행한 근본 이유는 인의(仁義)가 부족하고, 자비가 부족하고, 사랑이 부족한 때문이다. 이 마음만 발달이 되면 현재 물질로도 온 인류가 다 편히 살아갈 수 있을 것이다. 인류의 이 정신을 배양하는 것은 오직 문화다. 나는 우리나라가 남의 것을 모방하는 나라가 되지 말고, 이러한 높고 새로운 문화의 근원이 되고, 목표가 되고, 모범이 되기를 원한다. 그래서 진정한 세계 평화가 우리나라에서, 우리나라로 말미암아 실현되기를 원한다.”

“I want our country to become the most beautiful country in the world. Neither the wealthiest nor the mightiest. Since we suffered deeply from the invasion by another nation, I do not want us to invade others. I will be content if our wealth is sufficient to provide for all of us and our strength enough to protect us from others. The only one do I seek is the power of advanced culture. It is because the power of culture not only makes us happy, but does the same to others. What mankind lacks now is neither the military might nor the economic power. We all suffer because we lack benevolence and justice, mercy, and love. If we have these characters in us, we already have enough to provide sufficiently for all mankind to live well together. Culture is the only way to nurture these characters in us. I do not want us to imitate others’; instead, I want us to become the fountain, the standard, and the role model of the new culture with these ideals. Through this, I hope the permanent world peace will be gained in and by our country.”

매미: Cicada

IMG_0001
Cicadas are fascinating. They live 7, 13 or 17 years under the ground until they become adults. In their final year, they come out of the ground and die only after 7 – 10 days. Its endurance, its transformation, and its short-lived “free life” make me continue to think about them. The thought about Cicadas has been with me since I saw an empty shell that a cicada had left on the ground during my visit to Osaka a week ago. A life of a cicada can be seen as a reminder of evanescent nature of life. But it is also a triumphant, victorious life, eventually fulfilling its dream after a long wait. No matter how short it may be, it’s worth the wait. Many people never get to do that. They never leave their ground. They never get to fly.
Below are few poems that I wrote, thinking about cicadas.

Continue reading “매미: Cicada”

Unbounded Innovation – ET column

http://thumb.paoin.com/paoweb/common/flash/ArticleViewer02.swf?CNo=73686700

I was asked to write a weekly column for Electronic Times, a daily newspaper specialized on information technology and IT industry. The title of the column is “Unbounded Innovation” and I will be focusing on various issues related to digital innovation and its consequences. This week, using the evolution of e-book as an example, I discussed three different stages of digital innovation. The first stage is a material digitalization where firms introduce new products by integrating digital components into a product that was previously non-digital. In the second stage, firms begin to develop new business models by developing an architecture of information that are derivatives from the use of digitalized products. In the third stage, firms create novel products and services by creating new combinations of existing digitalized products and digital data stream.

Can Design Save Management?

I wrote a short provocation for Convergence: Managing + Designing, which will take place in June 17-18, 2010. Here it is.

Youngjin Yoo

Temple University

Design, or design thinking, is becoming increasingly popular among management practitioners and scholars. Leading popular magazines like BusinessWeek and Fast Company regularly feature design as an important topic. Many leading business schools around the world incorporate some elements of design as a part of their curriculum. At the same time, leading design schools around world are challenging business schools by providing plausible alternatives to students and recruiters alike. A recent ranking by BusinesWeek shows a mixture of business schools and design schools. Design consulting firms like IDEO and Design Continuum are frequently called into do strategic and management consulting projects that used to be the exclusive tasks asked to management consulting firms. And, a quick scan of the shelves at the business section at local bookstores show titles like, Managing as Designing, Change by Design, Design-driven Innovation and Design of Business. Indeed, the first decade of the 21st century seems to be the decade of design. It is as if management found a panacea. And, that is design.

But, can design save management? In my presentation, I will explore this question from a historical perspective. It is undeniable that design and design thinking is having a positive impact on management practice and education. However, it is not clear if the current wave of design thinking will address the fundamental crisis that contemporary management is facing in this post-industrial economy.

The post World-War II economy saw the emergence two powerful economic forces. First, large multi-national firms have emerged as powerful economic actors that transcend the national boundaries. They control the direct access to the market and consumers, defined mostly based on physical products, acting either as final assemblers of parts or marketing and distribution channels. These firms grew in size and scope by exploiting the rapid developments in production, transportation and communication technologies (Chandler et al. 1999; Chandler Jr 1984). Their size and complexity are unparalleled. In order to manage the growing complexity, the paradigm of scientific management was developed (Teece 1993). A new class of economic actors,  ADDIN EN.CITE
<EndNote><Cite><Author>Chandler</Author><Year>1999</Year><RecNum>3293</RecNum><record><rec-number>3293</rec-number><foreign-keys><key
app="EN"
db-id="f00rva998fzwt2e0927xz5x4sr2dv9e2vra5">3293</key></foreign-keys><ref-type
name="Book">6</ref-type><contributors><authors><author>Chandler,
A. D.</author><author>Hagstrom,
P</author><author>Sölvell,
Ö</author></authors></contributors><titles><title>The
Dynamic Firm:  The Role of
Technology, Strategy, Organization, and Regions</title></titles><dates><year>1999</year></dates><pub-location>New
York, NY</pub-location><publisher>Oxford University
Press</publisher><urls></urls></record></Cite><Cite><Author>Chandler
Jr</Author><Year>1984</Year><RecNum>5730</RecNum><record><rec-number>5730</rec-number><foreign-keys><key
app=’EN’
db-id=’f00rva998fzwt2e0927xz5x4sr2dv9e2vra5′>5730</key></foreign-keys><ref-type
name=’Journal
Article’>17</ref-type><contributors><authors><author>Chandler
Jr, A</author></authors></contributors><titles><title>The
emergence of managerial capitalism</title><secondary-title>The
Business History
Review</secondary-title></titles><periodical><full-title>The
Business History
Review</full-title></periodical><dates><year>1984</year><pub-dates><date>Jan
1</date></pub-dates></dates><accession-num>16876322869684809580related:bC9dQjy-NOoJ</accession-num><label>p04874</label><urls><related-urls><url>http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&amp;cmd=Retrieve&amp;dopt=AbstractPlus&amp;list_uids=16876322869684809580related:bC9dQjy-NOoJ</url></related-urls><pdf-urls><url>file://localhost/Users/yyoo/Documents/electronic%20papers/Papers/1984/Chandler%20Jr/The%20Business%20History%20Review%201984%20Chandler%20Jr.pdf</url></pdf-urls></urls><custom3>papers://59AEBB57-DC67-4B83-BEED-A15C62ED7905/Paper/p4874</custom3></record></Cite></EndNote>
 ADDIN EN.CITE
<EndNote><Cite><Author>Teece</Author><Year>1993</Year><RecNum>5729</RecNum><record><rec-number>5729</rec-number><foreign-keys><key
app="EN" db-id="f00rva998fzwt2e0927xz5x4sr2dv9e2vra5">5729</key></foreign-keys><ref-type
name="Journal Article">17</ref-type><contributors><authors><author>Teece,
D</author></authors></contributors><titles><title>The
dynamics of industrial capitalism: perspectives on Alfred Chandler&apos;s
scale and scope</title><secondary-title>Journal of Economic
Literature</secondary-title></titles><periodical><full-title>Journal
of Economic
Literature</full-title></periodical><dates><year>1993</year><pub-dates><date>Jan
1</date></pub-dates></dates><accession-num>13513641950020124853related:tUDEVMEZirsJ</accession-num><label>p04872</label><urls><related-urls><url>http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&amp;cmd=Retrieve&amp;dopt=AbstractPlus&amp;list_uids=13513641950020124853related:tUDEVMEZirsJ</url></related-urls><pdf-urls><url>file://localhost/Users/yyoo/Documents/electronic%20papers/Papers/1993/Teece/Journal%20of%20Economic%20Literature%201993%20Teece.pdf</url></pdf-urls></urls><custom3>papers://59AEBB57-DC67-4B83-BEED-A15C62ED7905/Paper/p4872</custom3></record></Cite></EndNote>
professional managers, who are equipped with the tools of scientific management has emerged during this era. Contrary to the original form of capitalism that emerged as a consequence of industrial revolution and brought the separation of production and consumption, this managerial capitalism, brought the separation of management and production (Zuboff and Maxmin 2002). ADDIN EN.CITE
<EndNote><Cite><Author>Zuboff</Author><Year>2002</Year><RecNum>4781</RecNum><record><rec-number>4781</rec-number><foreign-keys><key
app="EN" db-id="f00rva998fzwt2e0927xz5x4sr2dv9e2vra5">4781</key></foreign-keys><ref-type
name="Book">6</ref-type><contributors><authors><author>Zuboff,
Shoshana</author><author>Maxmin, James</author></authors></contributors><titles><title>The
Support Economy</title></titles><dates><year>2002</year></dates><pub-location>New
York</pub-location><publisher>Viking</publisher><urls></urls></record></Cite></EndNote>

Second, financial firms, often represented as “Wall Street”, emerged as important economic and social actors. Initially, they act as aggregators of financial resources to help firms on the “main street” finance their capital investments. Over time, these financial firms developed increasingly elaborate and often exotic financial engineering tools to help firms gain access to financial resources. As a result, firms’ performance was solely measured by the financial metrics, and financial firms started to buy and sell firms, as if they were products, using these financial metrics. After leading the barrage of corporate M&A that we witnessed in the last decade of the past century, many of which were funded by the historically low interest rate, these financial firms invented new financial products that are solely designed to finance other financial activities. Thus, we have witnessed the emergence of financial capitalism that brought the separation of finance and production.

The evolution of capitalism thus can be seen as continuing pursuit of higher return on capital through a series of separations: production, management and finance. Each of these separations brought a new form of “leverage” that amplifies the potential return on investment. Yet, at the same time, they brought greater degree of complexity, unforeseen systemic risks, and alienation of labor and consumers alike.

Design thinking, as it is currently popularized with the emphasis on human-centered product and service design, deals only with the problems from the separation of production and consumption, leaving other and possibly far more serious challenges that today’s management is facing. Many of these challenges arose as a result of separations of management and finance from production. For example, design thinking has little to say about the recent financial crisis that raised many fundamental questions about the continuing viability of the current form of capitalism and the role of management schools. The demise of the Big Three is the result of institutionalized “scientific” management and toxic financial products as much as the lack of human-centered design in their products.

My concern is that the current obsession with the design thinking can have unintended harmful consequences on the future of management in the long run. As it is currently being applied, design is seen as a quick fix of profitability problems, new product developments, and consumer satisfactions, rather than dealing with more systemic and serious issues. Indeed, it might lead us to the emergence of new form of capitalism, design capitalism, where creativity is separated from production and consumption. Just as management was for the sake of management during the managerial capitalism, and finance was for the sake of finance during the financial capitalism, we may see the creativity for the sake of creativity in this new form of design capitalism. If that happens, instead of finding its panacea, management might have discovered the most powerful painkiller it has ever found. And, alas, that is design.

 ADDIN EN.REFLIST Chandler, A.D., Hagstrom, P., and Sölvell, Ö. The Dynamic Firm: The Role of Technology, Strategy, Organization, and Regions Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 1999.

Chandler Jr, A. “The emergence of managerial capitalism,” The Business History Review), Jan 1 1984.

Teece, D. “The dynamics of industrial capitalism: perspectives on Alfred Chandler’s scale and scope,” Journal of Economic Literature), Jan 1 1993.

Zuboff, S., and Maxmin, J. The Support Economy Viking, New York, 2002.


reactionary science

Yesterday I twitted that the current discussion on healthcare IT seem to ignore 30+ years of research by the IS community. For example, Nicholas Carr wrote:

“There is a widespread faith, beginning at the very top of our government, that pouring money into computerization will lead to big improvements in both the cost and quality of health care. As this study shows, those assumptions need to be questioned – or a whole lot of taxpayer money may go to waste. Information technology has great promise for health care, but simply dumping cash into traditional commercial systems and applications is unlikely to achieve that promise – and may backfire by increasing costs further.”

There is nothing really new in his comments. What he is observing is probably one of the most well researched topics in our field. I felt that people who work on healthcare IT should pick up some of the classic works in our field to avoid many of the mistakes that many firms that tried to implement IT in the past made. As Brian Butler commented,

“The simple reality is that healthcare is 10-20 years behind with regard to IT and IS management. While there are differences – much of what we teach undergraduates and MS students is significant insight to them….

In response to my posting, however, couple of my colleagues commented that the problem is really the journals of the field. For example, Kevin Desouza wrote:

“it is a shame when a field that is supposed to study IS has a 2 year backlog on average in terms of publishing information. We do not practice what we preach”

While I do agree with Kevin that it takes too long to get anything published in our journals and that some of the delay can be removed by using information technology more effectively, I am not sure if the time lag in the publication process is indeed the source of the problem. I doubt the current problem will go away even if we have real-time publication mechanism for scholarly works. I wonder perhaps it has to do with the way we think about the role of social science in general. The issue of relevance is not particularly constrained to the field of information systems; instead, it permeates in most social science fields as Flyvbjerg makes abundantly clear in his book, “Making Social Science Matter”.

Much of the social science in its current form is reactionary in its nature. As Dick Boland has said many times, social scientists became “historians of the recent past and gear students up to reproduce it”. Instead of creating new and better realities, we are busy reacting to what has already happened. Whether it happened two months ago or two years ago, we will be still busy documenting the recent past as long as we follow this reactionary mode of science. What is necessary, then, is not just eliminating the lag time. Instead, we need to shift our attention from documenting the recent past to imagining new future. When rocket scientists built rockets to go to Moon, they did not document how someone else went to Moon. They made it happen. They built new rockets. They designed the new lunar lander. They built new organization structures to support their work. They invented the relational database. They were not reacting. They were acting and pro-acting. The world can tolerate two years of time lag, if what we produce are theoretical, empirical, and instrumental tools that can indeed make this world a better place. What we need is scholarly works that lead to new human actions.

Of course, this is not a new idea. Late Herbert A. Simon has argued for the sciences of the artificial. More recently, Law and Urry (2004), in their article, “Enacting the social” (Economy ad Society, 33:3, 390-410), so eloquently argued that “social inquiry and its methods are productive: they (help to) make social realities and social worlds. They do not simply describe the world as it is, but also enact it.” They further suggest that social scientists need to re-imagine themselves and their methods in order to better deal with the fleeting, the distributed, the multiple, the sensory, the emotional, and the kinaesthetic. With these, and many other efforts underway, I hope we will be able to make our scholarly work matter more.

In Praise of Wobbly – Ted Gup

Ted Gup had an NRP “This I believe” article, called, In Praise of Wobbly. Over the weekend, I wanted to hear it again. I also recalled that he once gave a convocation speech at Case. The original link to the full text is here. But, since it gives you a warning that it is getting old, I decided to copy the whole text here as a back-up so that I can find it later when I want to show it to other people.

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Three categories of social science — by Scott Stossel

"For those of us not actively toiling in a university, most modern writing in the social sciences can be placed into one of three categories. The first category, which is vast, consists of the arcane and the incremental — those studies so obscure, or which advance scholarship so infinitesimally, that they can be safely ignored by the general reader. (Not that this work isn’t important; it keeps academic publishing in business, and significant knowledge accretes in tiny drips on the way to tenure.) The second category consists of statistical proof of the obvious. (Some actual study findings published recently: “the parent-child relationship . . . commonly includes feelings of irritation, tension and ambivalence”; women are more likely to engage in casual sex with “an exceptionally attractive man”; and driving while text-messaging leads to “a substantial increase in the risk of being involved in a safety-critical event such as a crash.” Thank you, social science!) And in the third category, which is surely the smallest, are works of brilliant originality that stimulate and enlighten and can sometimes even change the way we under­stand the world."

via www.nytimes.com